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My other sites:
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Other journals I read:
= DJ Adams
= rebecca blood
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= Margaret Cho
= Warren Ellis
= Neil Gaiman
= Rafael Garcia-Suarez
= John Gorenfeld
= Lawrence Lessig
= Michael McCracken
= Jeff Vogel
= Norm Walsh
= Wil Wheaton

My journal at use.perl.org:
· Restless
· RPC-XML-0.57.tar.gz uploaded to PAUSE
· RPC-XML-0.56.tar.gz uploaded to PAUSE
· RPC-XML-0.55.tar.gz uploaded to PAUSE
· Forgive Me, Bretheren Monks
· Extry Extry: Winer Leaves the RSS Advisory Board
· RPC::XML 0.54 Uploaded
· The Books of Perl
· Good Intentions Don't Equal Good Results
· Errata Tracking Page for PWSWP
· Image::Size 2.992 Uploaded
· Props to Portland PM
· Lightning Talks
· OSCON, Tuesday
· OSCON Plans Now Set

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We will never have true civilization until we have learned to recognize the rights of others. — Will Rogers

Google Earth Find a Lanc 2006.01.10.01:53

See this article at The Register.

# [/hobby/modeling]

Bad Planning Makes for Bad Stargazing 2005.07.04.09:46

I can't believe I haven't gotten around to writing about this before. I got a nice telescope a few years ago, when Mars was passing so close to Earth. The scope I got was the SkyView Pro™ 6LT EQ Reflector, from Orion Telescopes and Binoculars, the Cupertino location on De Anza. These guys were great– helpful to a fault long past the time I'd made my purchase. I went in, told them how much I had to spend, and they made sure I got the most telescope for the money I had to spend.

Anyway, so tonight I took it out on the balcony to try and get a good view of the Deep Impact mission's big moment– the collision of the projectile against the comet Tempel 1. But I didn't plan very well. For one thing, there is just too much light pollution, even in my quiet suburb. For another, I just didn't give myself enough time to be able to locate and fix on the comet.

So, on the plus side, I got some fantasic viewing of Jupiter and three of its moons. But I didn't manage to locate the comet. Barring more pressing matters, I think I'll try again tomorrow night to view the comet. I won't get to witness the impact, but I can at least view it for a bit. I'll try to give myself time to drive a ways down 17 towards Santa Cruz, so that I can get better viewing conditions.

# [/hobby/astronomy]

Ordnance QF 2 pr on Carriage 2 pr - Part 2 2004.03.07.10:16

Since posting the first part of this project, two good things have happened: firstly, a friend with a much better camera than I had was willing to take some snaps for me, all of which came out considerably clearer than my Ricoh 4200 was capable of. Secondly, I got a new camera. So future projects will feature better pictures, as well.

[image] In the first part, I showed two views of the carriage at an interim stage. This photo shows the completed carriage in travelling order. One of the things that has always attracted me to this subject is the odd image the front legs make when they're folded upwards for transit. It was here that I first started having some problems with the instructions, in the form of omissions.

Note the white metal arms that hold the folded sections of the legs in place. These hook on to small hooks formed from brass wire, attached to the folded sections. The instructions tell you to make these hooks and where to place them (the wire is provided in the kit). However, there is no mention of the hooks at all if you are building the gun in firing position. If you don't at least look over the instructions specific to travel position, you might not know to put the hooks there. To make matters worse, the ends of the metal arms that hook onto the brass don't actually have hooks; they're solid. I tried drilling the ends out to be more hook-like, but they became too mangled to be usable. I instead snipped them off and replaced them with hooks made from small-gauge lead wire.

[image] This picture shows the gun assembly itself, on the platform but minus the chair and the adjusting wheels. There were no surprises here, thankfully. The barrel is nice and straight, and wasn't too hard to drill out. When I build another, I will probably replace it with an aftermarket part (lathe-turned aluminum) simply because the drilling will be more precise and it will be less vulnerable to heat. Getting the breech part against the back-end of the gun was a little work, as cleaning the casting block off of the breech left it a little uneven. The hardest part to fit was the white metal piece that goes along the side of the gun itself, up to the breech. It was hard to tell what angle it should be at, so it was hard to get lined up. The rest of the parts shown were no trouble at all.

[image] The next part to feature for now was also the single hardest to get right, with the possible exception of aligning the folded front carriage legs. This is the sight assembly. The picture is small because it is the only one we were able to get of the assembly that has the open sight (the brass wire part) in focus. The assembly itself is fairly straightforward. The two problems that took the better part of an evening, are the open sight and the alignment from the mounting brace. And the fact that the mounting brace is never actually mentioned or referred to in the instructions.

The brace is part number 22. It's shown in the parts layout photo, but is never called out anywhere else. However, when you're assembling the gun sub-assembly, it is pretty clear where it goes. And the half-circle opening at the bottom is perfectly-spaced to fit across the side braces on either side of the gun itself. However, at the other end of part 22, the nub onto which the sights are mounted, the angle is completely wrong. The sight assembly should be perfectly horizontal with regards to the gun itself. But the nub is at an angle of about -40°, which would cause the whole sight system to be at that angle. To solve this, I used a simple sanding stick to level off the top of the nub so that the sights were level. The reason this was such a problem was that it was so difficult to test-fit this, to be certain that the angle was correct. I didn't want to permanently attach part 22 to the gun, since it would make painting more difficult.

[image] The last element for now is the open sight itself. This was especially tricky to do, since all they tell you to do is to make a rectangle of wire 5mm by 3mm. This will not fit on the sights. Do not do it this way. The open sight has to fit to part number 30. There is a very small nub where the two join, about 1mm wide. As you may guess, this 1mm is actually part of the rectangle. I drew up this pattern (using the GIMP) based on what I did. Rather than making the rectangle, I made what you might call a highly-stylized "C". It is 5mm on two sides, 3mm across the top, and has two 1mm stems pointing inwards on the bottom. The stems sit snugly on either side of the nub, and the sight assembly is complete.

Since taking the pix and doing the work detailed above, I have finished the basic construction of the detail parts (ammo shelf, cleaning up the ammo boxes, cleaning up the gunshield, etc.). I've painted all of them their basic British Green color, and am about to do the rubber effect on the tires. I'll post more pictures and details when I've gotten a little further.

# [/hobby/modeling/Two-Pounder]

Ordnance QF 2 pr on Carriage 2 pr - Part 1 2004.02.12.01:30

[image] The title is the official designation for this petite weapon. The "Two-Pounder" was the general anti-tank ordnance for the British forces at the outset of World War II. Like the U.S. and German 37mm AT weapons (the 2lb was a 40mm calibre), it was practically out-classed against the armor of tanks before the war even started. By 1942, it was completely ineffective against German AFVs, but remained useful in the anti-tank role in the eastern theater, where the Japanese AFVs were still lightly-armored.

[image] This kit is a little jewel from the Kent, U.K.-based company, Sovereign 2000. I got the kit at the IPMS/UK National Convention in 2002. I paid £25.00 for it there, but I also bought the ammo set at the same time. I forget exactly what that was going for at the time, but the current price sheet has the gun for £27.00 and the ammo for £8.00. It's a somewhat high price to pay for such a small kit, but the quality of the kit makes it worth every penny, to me at least. And I will be getting another one to do after this one. There are some gotchas to watch out for, which I'll detail at a later time.

The only realy problem thus far is that the thing is so small, I can't get good in-progress photos, due to my digital camera's lack of a real depth-of-field. The shots above are from the first night's work, getting the basic carriage parts together. At this point, I have most sub-assemblies done, but haven't been able to get any more pictures to come out.

(For scale note, the keyboard it is sitting on is a laptop, not a full-sized keyboard.)

# [/hobby/modeling/Two-Pounder]

SA-2 Guideline Surface-to-Air Missle 2004.01.28.08:59

This kit a fairly-recent release from a Chinese company called Trumpter. Unlike the Cromwell project, I'm building this one just with the parts that are in the box. Well, except that I lost one of four identical, really, really small parts. Since I couldn't fabricate one that looked exactly like the other three, I had to fabricate all four of them. It's what I would normally do, if I were set on super-detailing this project. But I didn't plan to initially, for two reasons: (1) I wanted a nice quick build I could put on the shelf quickly, and (2) it's really a nicely-done kit, and doesn't really need extra work. Well, unless you lose a piece.

So, this is where it's at prior to painting. All the principle assembly has been done. In the above picture, I've put a simple, unfinished figurine in the shot to give a sense of scale to the missle itself. The figure can be regarded as a roughly 6'0" male. In the second shot, to the left, is the launcher base with the blast shield in the foreground. The darker plastic doesn't show up as well (and it doesn't have the contrast of brass that the Cromwell has), but the nice thing is that most of the launcher is divided into about six sub-assemblies here, but the parts are so nicely-engineered that they hold themselves together without any glue (at least long-enough to take the picture).

More on this once I start getting paint onto it. Primed most of the parts this evening.

# [/hobby/modeling/SA-2]

Cromwell Mk. IV - Part 1 2004.01.28.08:44

My first project to spotlight is a Cromwell Mk. IV, in 1/72 scale. The kit is a fairly inexpensive offering from the Revell GmbH company. The detail on the parts is fantastic, and the kit itself could be built straight out of the box with no extra detail work, and produce a great model. But, I stumbled across a nice photo-etch set from Part designed for this kit. The picture to the right shows the model where it currently stands on my shelf. You can see the Part photo-etched replacement fenders in place, and the engine grille work at the rear.

Unfortunately, this is where it's been stuck for several months. I ordered some additional detail parts from a place in England called PDI Model Supplies. I got one item in the mail from them, sent by airmail. But there were a lot of other items in the order, and it didn't show up. Nor did it the next week. I asked the owner, and it seems that the order was large-enough that he thought the shipping cost for air-mail was too high. So he decided to send it surface-mail. Without asking me first, if I would be willing to pay the higher shipping costs (I would have). This was at the end of November, and I'm still waiting. I might order from them, again, but I'll be much more explicit about shipping.

# [/hobby/modeling/CromwellMkIV]

Introducing My Obsession 2004.01.28.08:20

Some of the behind-the-scenes work I've been doing on the weblog software I use is designed to let me show some in-progress work on my modeling projects. I will eventually be integrating some sort of gallery plug-in, but I'm still choosing between a few different options for that.

What I have, though, is a way to create separate topic-areas for each project without the category-list in the right sidebar stretching down to a ridiculous extent. It sounds small (and in fact, once I found out the way to configure it, it was pretty simple), but over time it will help. I can add as many of these as I want, the sidebar stays reasonable. You can view all the projects via this category, or you can look at an individual project by clicking on the category link at the end of an entry, and see just that project. Without it showing up the sidebar, though, that's the only way to get to an individual project.

So, um, anyway... here's some recent stuff.

# [/hobby/modeling]

Ways in Which I Suffer For My Art 2003.04.01.08:39

Last night, I cut a finger on one hand with an X-acto knife while working on my current modeling project. Understand, the X-acto is a really fucking sharp knife, especially when the blade inside it is a fresh-from-the-box #11 blade. It makes a very clean, usually fairly deep cut. The kind that doesn't even hurt for the first few minutes, giving you plenty of time to ponder just how stupid bracing the part with your hand while cutting was, when you have a perfectly good cutting surface right in front of you.

Tonight, while cleaning out my airbrush, I managed to pull open the just-recently-sealed cut. Just in time, no less, for me to get a little bit of laquer paint thinner into the cut.

# [/hobby]

Around the Floor in Telford 2002.11.09.15:57

I'm here at the IPMS/UK Nationals in Telford. It's a very different kind of modeling show than what we generally see in the U.S., especially where the competition part of the show is concerned.

The show here fills two of three halls at the Telford International Centre (Telford is in Shropshire, near the Welsh border, for those who are interested). Overall, it is roughly twice the floorspace of the largest IPMS/USA National conventions I've been to. But it isn't just a matter of simple square-footage. There are a lot of differences that are regardless of size, that say a lot about the different hobby cultures.

In the U.S., the conventions are about two things: the model contest itself, and vendors selling products. The contest area is usually half the total floorspace. There are no displays outside of competition, except for a few things on vendor tables intended to illustrate their offerings.

In contrast, the show here is much more about display and exhibition than competition or sales. There are more vendors here than you'll find at a U.S. show, but they take up just over half of the space. The contest is about 10% of the space. The remaining space is taken up by club and SIG (Special Interest Group) displays, plus a few non-sales-oriented exhibits by big-name manufacturers like Revell and Tamiya, or displays by groups that aren't necessarily modeling-oriented, like the Aviation Heritage Society.

That's an interesting set of numbers to look at: the show is twice as large, but the competition part is just 20% the size of the U.S. event. Instead, there are a lot of displays here that just aren't present at the U.S. show. Most of the models that are in the competition here are really, really good. It's not a matter of lack of skilled entries, but just a different focus for the show itself. Less about winning, more about socializing.

# [/hobby]

Aircraft Enthusiasts Cleared 2002.11.07.08:34

Planespotters cleared of espionage

This is a relief. I do this anytime I travel. Mostly, I go for museums, but any chance to take pix of the real thing I go for, especially military stuff.

# [/hobby]

Who Am I:
Randy J. Ray
Software Engineer


Buy my book!

Programming Web Services with Perl

I've also contributed three chapters to:

Computer Science & Perl Programming

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Reading and Re-reading
· The Annotated Thursday: G.K. Chesterton's The Man Who Would Be Thursday, G.K. Chesterton, Martin Gardner
· The Feeling Good Handbook, David D. Burns
· Organizing From the Inside Out, Julie Morgenstern
· XML Schema, Eric Van Der Vlist
· BEEP: The Definitive Guide, Marshall T. Rose

High in the queue
· Silk, Caitlin R. Kiernan
· Coldheart Canyon, Clive Barker
· Idoru, William Gibson
· Shared Source CLI Essentials, David Stutz, Ted Neward, Geoff Shilling

Recently finished
· Planetary Vol. 3: Leaving the 20th Century, Warren Ellis, et al

Recommended favorites
· The Cowboy Wally Show, Kyle Baker
· Lost Souls, Poppy Z. Brite
· The Alienist, Caleb Carr
· Quarantine, Greg Egan
· The Authority: Relentless, Warren Ellis et al.
· Planetary: All Over the World and Other..., Warren Ellis et al.
· American Gods, Neil Gaiman
· Good Omens, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
· Neuromancer, William Gibson
· A Philosophical Investigation, Philip Kerr
· Say You Want a Revolution (The Invisibles, Book 1), Grant Morrison et al
· You Are Worthless: Depressing Nuggets of..., Oswald T. Pratt and Scott Dickers
· Cryptonomicon, Neil Stephenson
· Rising Stars : Born In Fire (Vol. 1), J. Michael Straczynski

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